The last few weeks as delivered some useful rainfalls but my garden has had two hail storms and there is shredded foliage everywhere. The plants will take some time to recover and produce fresh new foliage. Fortunately Beaudesert Township got little or no hail. I had visions of arriving at work to find a smashed Garden Centre, but all was fine.
Sourcing plant life for the Garden Centre has always been an enjoyable task that is a big part of my job. For a start the plants in general need to be suitable for this climate zone. They need to be high quality and grown in such a way as to be hardened off. (That is not immature or soft). If the plants that are coming from the grower belong in the Myrtacea family (like Callistemon, Lilliy pillys and Eucalyptus) then the grower needs to be accredited for the control of myrtle rust and has employed the appropriate biosecurity measures to ensure myrtle rust free stock. The same applies for all plant life that is arriving from any nursery within the fire ant zone.
On arrival at the Garden Centre they are inspected by us before they enter the nursery. I can happily inform you that because I purchase from only accredited growers I have never had to reject infected plants. Over the years I have certainly rejected plants that are of inferior quality and on those rare occasions immediately inform the grower why they are being rejected. I may not purchase from that grower again, a lesson for both.
In reference to the Myrtle rust and Fire ant problem I sometimes wonder about the plant life that is offered for sale at all the local markets throughout South East Queensland. I can only presume that the grower/sellers have the appropriate certificate or accreditation for movement from zone to zone. Not sure how that works.
Talking about biosecurity, one of my most reputable growers has been granted permission, after much negotiation with the appropriate Queensland authority, (and I have been waiting months for this) to release a range of potted banana varieties into what is referred to as the Southern Banana Biosecurity Zone in which fortunately the Scenic Rim Shire is a part, lying at the Southern most base of the SBBZ.
There are four varieties to be released for sale. The first to arrive this week will be the very popular Cavendish which was developed to resist disease and insects. The growth is more compact than the earlier varieties with a stem height between 3-4 meters.
Next, a dwarf Cavendish with a stem height of 1.5 – 2 meters. I am not sure when the other two will be available, but I have already placed orders.
The very familiar Lady Finger, which is naturally sweeter, though smaller than regular varieties. Lady Finger has a good shelf life and the plant is drought hardy once established and grows up to 4.5 meters. Then comes the popular Indian variety. Pisang Ceylon which has very attractive leaves that have maroon and black markings. The fruit is sweet, apparently compared to sweet green apples. Stem height 3 to 4.5 meters
The cultural notes that come with each variety are excellent. They offer comprehensive growing instructions that explain soil requirements, position, which is full sun. How to protect the plants, how to prepare the soil, when to apply fertiliser and mulch, how to remove suckers and select the next bearing sucker.
There are notes on how to harvest and what to look for before you remove the bunch.
Basicly the banana plant requires full sun in a frost free area, a well drained rich soil which needs to be heavily mulched.
On the label is also a notice in regards to the Southern banana biosecurity zone and making the buyer aware that the plant cannot be moved outside this zone. There is also a map showing the zone area.
Jon (Plantman) Lovett